Clyde Mondilla came out of nowhere to grab the clubhouse lead with an eagle-spiked 66 in a twice weather-delayed third round on Friday but Miguel Tabuena and Tony Lascuña lined themselves up for a marquee title clash in the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship at the Legends course in Carmona, Cavite.
Mondilla struck from five flights behind to the top of the heap with five birdies and an eagle-3 on No. 14 against a bogey, stringing a pair of 33s for a 54-hole haul of 16-under 200 heading to the final 18 holes of the $60,000 championship sponsored by ICTSI.
But the runner-up in last week’s Orchard Championship could settle for the second spot after completion of third round early today as Tabuena pooled a 17-under aggregate with three holes to play and Lascuña at 15-under with two holes left when the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. suspended play due to heavy rain and lightning.
“I’m playing solid. Since most were shooting low, I told myself that I should also make my move. I was lucky to hit a lot of birdies and the eagle proved to be a bonus,” said Mondilla, who racked up three victories last year and finished second to Lascuña in the Order of Merit derby.
Elmer Salvador also remained in the hunt with a 14-under total with two holes to go while Mhark Fernando totaled 13-under 203 after a 70 in another low scoring day marred by a 90-minute stoppage due to lightning early afternoon and another 30 minutes delay late in the day before the PGTI suspended play.
American Nicolas Paez and Macedonian Peter Stojanovski also had running 13-under totals with two holes left to play.
Mondilla, in 12th place after 36 holes despite a pair of 67s, made his charge early with three birdies in the first six holes, added another one on No. 10 but dropped a stroke on the 12th. But the three-leg winner last year bounced back with an eagle on No. 14 and a birdie on the next for that 66.
Tabuena, who has missed the spotlight in the first two rounds due to weather-delayed rounds, birdied five of his last six holes at completion of his second round, including four straight from No. 6, as he finished with a 63 to tie clubhouse leader Nilo Salahog at 14-under 130.
But they still stood two strokes behind American Lexus Keoninh, who birdied the last hole to cap a second round 65 and snatch the lead with a 16-under 128 total.
Lascuña, who shared the first round honors with Stojanovski with a bogey-free 62, birdied two of the last three holes at resumption of his second round play but lay four shots off Keoninh with a 132, a shot adrift of the 131s by Paez and Sumcad, who shot identical 65s.
But while Tabuena and Lascuña kept their charge early in the third round, Keoninh tumbled down the leaderboard with a quadruple bogey on the par-3 No. 3 when he hooked his tee-shot for a lost ball. He teed off again, missed the green and three-putted. He parred the next two for a 12-under aggregate before play was stopped again due to lightning.
In contrast, Tabuena, chasing his third win early in the season following victories at The Country Club Invitational and the ICTSI Luisita Championship, birdied two of the first three holes but dropped a stroke on No. 4 for a 15-under total while Lascuña, winner at ICTSI Manila Masters at Eastridge last month, birdied two of the first six holes.
“I struggled a bit after a birdie on No. 3, missing the greens on the next two,” said Tabuena, who also came through with a superb flop shot on No. 5 to save par.
Lascuña also wheeled back into contention with a bogey-free three-under card after 16 holes, confident of his chances but wary of his rivals and the course that continued to receive a beating from the men of the tour.
“Despite the low scoring, we still have to be cautious with our shots since it’s difficult if you miss the green, whose speed is unpredictable,” said Lascuña.